Bodies On Display?

August 28th, 2006 by Rachel

Not so long ago, Matt Graham and I were discussing the Body Worlds exhibit in Houston. For two years, this exhibit has toured the country featuring real human bodies that have been preserved with a process called plastination. I was trying to explain to Matt that I was not comfortable with the exhibit and had no desire to see it, but I couldn’t explain why. Recently, we listened to a report on NPR looking into Body Worlds and BODIES… The Exhibition, and it further solidified my feelings.

First, let me state that I think that the human body is a miracle and shows our Creator’s creativity, handiwork and precision. That my body was able to grow a child and birth it while I did almost nothing to aid it along is truly miraculous. I took anatomy and physiology in college and was awed by the intricacy of the systems and how each works together.

The bodies in BODIES… The Exhibition are unclaimed bodies obtained in China. In a country with a human rights record such as China’s, these bodies are likely political prisoners, the mentally disabled and perhaps even persecuted Christians whose bodies were taken, converted to plastic and put on display for profit. Gunther von Hagen, the “artist” behind Body Worlds claims that all of his bodies are donated; however, the NPR report found no clear paper trail, posing doubts about where his bodies were obtained. All of his cadavers are plastinized in China, where he claims the medical students are the most diligent and have the most dexterity.

Regardless of how the bodies are obtained, that people would find dissected bodies displayed as the living entertaining is difficult for me to imagine. It seems so sordid. If one is interested in anatomy, textbook illustrations provide all that non-doctors would need. Do we need to examine the dead? What does this say about our society that we put the dead on display? Even primative, savage societies respect their dead.

One of bodies in the exhibit is a young woman with an 8 month old fetus inside of her displayed. According to Wikipedia (I know) a sign nearby states that she decided to donate her body after she found out she had a terminal disease. Why wasn’t her baby delivered then? Eight months gestation is normally viable outside of the womb. There are plastinized children in the exhibits–can they provide consent? I also read that each of the plastinized bodies in the Body Worlds exhibit has von Hagen’s signature, as if it is his work of art, and his European exhibits include sexual exhibits.

How should we as Christians view exhibits such as these, particularly in light of 1 Corinthians 15:50-56?

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Any thoughts?

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

August 2nd, 2006 by Rachel

For those of you who were unaware, yesterday began World Breastfeeding Week, launched to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. Some of you are probably flipping out right now that this is on our blog, but that is precisely why I am writing this–to remind you that breastfeeding is normal, superior nutrition and what God created as nourishment for babies.

There are (at least) 101 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Child. How we, as a society, perceive breastfeeding greatly impacts how long women breastfeed. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for 6 months and then to continue as the baby’s primary nutrition for a year. In the United States, only 72% of women report breastfeeding at least once, by six months only 39.1% are still breastfeeding, and by a year, only 20.1% are still breastfeeding (CDC).

The theme for this year’s World Breastfeeding Week is Code Watch, referring to the 1981 International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, which was designed to limit the undermining of breastfeeding through advertising. You can read more specifics here. As I have researched this more the past week, I am more and more tempted to join the ranks and boycott Nestle for their undermining of breastfeeding among the developing world. This is done by giving away free or reduced price formula to new mothers in the third world and then those women can’t afford the formula, prepare it with contaminated water, and don’t provide the immunities to their babies that only breastfeeding can provide. The World Health Organization estimates that over 1.5 million infants die every year that could be prevented by breastfeeding (source).

So to those of you still reading, thanks for reading and perhaps learning more about the importance of breastfeeding. Support moms you know that breastfeed!

Juxtaposed Headlines

February 3rd, 2006 by Thomas – Storm grows over Mohammad cartoons – Feb 2, 2006

… and Kanye West as Jesus Christ

Egyptian Muslims and Egyptian Christians

November 10th, 2005 by Thomas

Here’s an informative look at Egypt’s Christian-Muslim Divide in The International Herald Tribune.

The times they are achangin’

September 5th, 2005 by Thomas

This is a haphazard conglemeration of my thoughts on America, oil, hurricane Katrina, et al.

I think mass transit and alternative fuels are going to be growth areas in the coming decades. If any of you have been to other countries, particularly European countries, you’ve had the opportunity to enjoy the convenience of mass rail transit. Now, many people object to mass transit citing the ‘facts’ that Europe is different geographically than the U.S. or that rail transit in Europe isn’t perfect (delays sometime etc). Using that logic would mean we wouldn’t build any more grocery stores, since the grocery store sometimes doesn’t have fresh salmon or watermelons. If any of you have been to larger U.S. cities like New York, or even Houston or Dallas with the light rail systems, you’ve seen the benefits of mass transit as well. I’m not saying mass transit is the cure all for the ‘oil woes’ of late or that Europe is utopia, but don’t we have the responsibility to at least seriously consider a different way of life? After all, wouldn’t it create a lot of jobs? It sure would have been convenient and helpful for people in New Orleans to hop the train away from Katrina. I know that train tickets cost money that most of those people didn’t have, but it would be nice to think an American rail company would have given free rides. Maybe not. At least having the option would have been nice.

As fossil fuel costs rise, I anticipate American entrepreneurship will take the opportunities presented in alternative fuels, not so much out of a sense of responsbility to others in this country and the rest of the world, or to the stewardship of the earth we’ve been given, but more out of a grab for the almighty dollar. I think the U.S. auto industry has kept their head in the sand too long to be innovators in the hybrid arena, c.f. Honda Civic, Toyota Prius.

Plus, I’m really tired of seeing quad cab, 8 wheeled, 85 feet long, dual hemi trucks with 4 step staircases under the doors sitting in the parking lot of Academy – Sports and Outdoors. How many houses do you need to move?

As Christians, I believe we should be leading the charge in being responsible in how and what we consume and how we view people in the rest of the world. I don’t believe we are supposed to be ‘tree huggers’ because ‘trees are people too’, mainly because trees are not people, but also because trees aren’t as important as people. People’s souls are the only ‘commodity’ that really matters. How we live effects other people and their ability to live, much less hear the gospel.

I don’t think we will ever stop poverty completely. Jesus said the poor will always be among us. What an opportunity we have to serve Him.

So, these thoughts aren’t fully fleshed out, but something to think about more. Here are a couple of resources that are interesting. The first is compelling. I’ve not investigated the second all that much, but the trailers are thought provoking, at the least. I don’t recommend taking it fully to heart, as it seems to me a bit more sensational than necessary.

God is not...

He woke up!

May 3rd, 2005 by Rachel

Check out this article on CNN’s website. A man who had been brain damaged for 10 years, living in a nursing home and receiving therapy suddenly “woke up” and asked to talk to his wife. Hmmm. I won’t get into any Terri Shiavo similarities or the atrocity of her death, read for yourself.

Proud to be an American?

April 22nd, 2005 by Thomas

News Flash – Many of our fellow Americans don’t know world history or much of anything else about the world. This article, “Nazi Pope”, reports on some of the astounding reactions some Americans have had to Pope Benedict XVI. :: Columns :: ‘Mainstream’ judges by Thomas Sowell

January 5th, 2005 by Thomas

No policy litmus test — “mainstream” or otherwise — should be applied to any judicial nominee by either party, not if you want judges committed to the law, rather than to particular policy outcomes. :: Columns :: ‘Mainstream’ judges by Thomas Sowell